A cluster of coronavirus cases in a town in the Highlands linked to an abattoir has increased to 29.
An initial outbreak of five cases in Grantown-on-Spey, about 35 miles from Inverness, was confirmed on Tuesday.
Now public health officials at NHS Highland have identified the source of the cluster as the Millers of Speyside abattoir, which has closed for two weeks.
The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases within the Grantown community is currently 31, of which 29 are associated with the slaughterhouse.
NHS Highland said Millers of Speyside had taken the decision to close the site voluntarily, praising the company for “cooperating fully” with its investigation.
Contact tracing is being carried out, with all those identified as close contacts advised to self-isolate.
Officials say there is no evidence food is a source of Covid-19 and it is very unlikely it can be transmitted through the consumption of food.
Food Standard Scotland (FSS) staff working at the plant are aware of the positive cases and are following the necessary health protection advice, including self-isolating.
Due to links between the cluster and adult social care in the community, NHS Highland is also advising local care homes to suspend visits with immediate effect.
Dr Tim Allison, director of Public Health at NHS Highland, said: “NHS Highland and partners are working together to manage this community outbreak.
“Our health protection team is following up with contacts and the appropriate advice is being given to those identified.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the virus can recur even in rural communities and so everyone should continue to adhere to physical distancing guidelines, wear a face covering when in enclosed spaces, clean your hands and surfaces regularly and immediately self-isolate if you develop symptoms.”
Sandy Milne, managing director at Millers of Speyside said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff here at Millers of Speyside, who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure continued food production, is of the utmost importance.
“To prevent further spread of the virus among both our employees and the local community, we have opted to close our facility for fourteen days.”
Chief executive at Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Alan Clarke, said: “Since the start of Covid-19, QMS has worked hard with industry partners to ensure that the Scottish red meat supply chain has continued to operate when new measures, such as the introduction of social distancing in processors, were introduced.
“Millers of Speyside, like other Scottish food businesses, has whole-heartedly embraced these measures and has followed all guidelines, to isolate the spread of infection, protecting the health and wellbeing of their workforce and the local community.
“We wish those who have been infected a speedy recovery.”